Exuma Trip Report
First, let me say this trip was beyond wonderful in so many ways, and I apologize for the lengthy report- I included a lot of detail. Our plans for our honeymoon began with the Sandals in Great Exuma, butler room, full perks, but ended with us in a small cottage on Bonefish flats with basic amenities, but a million-dollar view! We saved around $2000, for going the route we did and had such a romantic adventure together that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Here’s our trip report.
Day 1, Monday, August 4th: We landed in Exuma on Monday morning around 11:00, and quickly found the Jeep Mike, our rental house owner/landlord, left for us in the tiny airport parking lot. The Jeep was super rough around the edges, which my husband was super excited about (we have several Jeeps back home), and once we learned the AC worked great, I was excited too! We were left a cellphone in the glove box and a handwritten note with directions to the house. We were off on our first adventure through town. Besides driving on the opposite side of the road than we were used to, and the absence of any street signs, we found it fairly easy to navigate through town and a ton of fun. We arrived at the house by noon, met at the door by Mike, and were immediately blown away with the view of the flats. The back yard contained a lagoon surrounded by palm trees and a stone patio with steps down into the water. The interior of the house was very basic, but we were very appreciative of our outside surroundings, and the privacy of the location. Here’s the link on Homeaway if you’re interested:
Monday was Emancipation Day for the island, so a lot of stores were closed. We had lunch at the Exuma Yacht Club (good view, ok food and drinks). We then took the water taxi over to explore Stocking Island and Chat-n-Chill a little bit. Drinks at Chat-n- chill were awesome- our first rum punch and goombay smash of many during the week! We were a little sad we missed the Sunday night BBQ there, definitely do that if you’re in town on a Sunday! We spent a couple hours swimming around and enjoying the drinks, and then took the taxi back over to town. We got take out pizza from Splash (great, by the way), and spent the afternoon/evening snorkeling around the house.
Day 2, Tuesday, August 5th: This morning, Mike, the owner of our house, took us for a short boat ride to show us the area around Bonefish Flats. There are several blue holes near the house, where the depth quickly drops--one was 80ft! To be sure I wasn’t sticking my big toe in that shark pit (ha!), but my husband was excited for the fishing. We spent the afternoon in town getting groceries, beers, and rum for the week. We went to Exuma market and spent $90 getting sandwich fixins’, chips, snacks, coffee, juice for the rum punch, and trash bags. We spent around $50 at the liquor store across the street, buying a fifth of rum (around $8) and a case of Kalik Light (around $43).
Tuesday night we went out for a nice dinner at One80, a restaurant at the very tip of Great Exuma, just before the bridge to Little Exuma. It was part of the boutique hotel, Turqouise Cay, which was gorgeous!! Everyone was so nice and the food was awesome! My husband had the ribs, and I had the Anchor Frutti Di Mare (mussels, crab meat, shrimp, lobster, octopus, amazingness!) There is also an awesome view of the sunset, and we got some great pictures on the pool deck there. Another guest even took some pictures of us, and the next day I had an email with these and well wishes for our marriage and honeymoon...so sweet. We loved everything about Turquoise Cay, and even came back for lunch on our last day.
Day 3, Wednesday, August 5th: We woke up early, drove into Georgetown and rented a boat from Minn's boat rental to explore the other side of the island, Elizabeth Harbour and Stocking Island. Our house came with a boat, which Mike said we could take on a 40 min. trip around to other side, but we felt it was easier to rent from Minn’s since we didn’t know the area yet and it was a fairly windy day. Minn’s was actually booked (so call ahead if you can!), but the lady at the front was so sweet and sent the mechanics out to double check a couple boats they were working on. We had breakfast at Driftwood Café (great), and by the time we arrived back at Minn’s, we had a 15’ Boston Whaler waiting for us. Minn’s gives you a map of the area with highlighted snorkel spots, and a radio in case of emergencies. We anchored first over on Hamburger Beach- true story- that's the name- and noticed a path through the woods. My husband overheard guys at Chat-n-chill the day we arrived talking about a hike up to the monument on the top of the island- so off we went down the path. Sure enough, there was a perfect hiking trail up to the top of Stocking Island with the most gorgeous view overlooking the harbour and neighboring islands. You have to do this!! Double check on where the path is, bc my details may not be exactly right.
We snorkeled around for most of the morning, and found some great reef’s based on the Minn’s map. Saw some sea turtles, grouper, barracuda, conch, tons of beautiful fish. Around lunch, my husband spotted a beach across the harbour and was determined for us to get to it. We eventually had to hop out of the boat and he pull it across the shallow parts, but wow, it was so worth it. Such a pretty beach, with a steep slope down into deeper water for snorkeling. Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches + Kalik + private beach = heaven.
We stopped by several other islands to explore, and had the best time during the day hiking, snorkeling, and enjoying the gorgeous views. There were little makeshift shelters on several islands we saw that made for cool hangout or lunch spots. Wednesday night, we had dinner at Catch-a- Fire. The view, drinks, and music were awesome. The food I'm pretty sure was caught on fire :). I had the lobster and I can’t remember what the hubby had, but it was definitely not worth the money.
Day 4, Thursday, August 6th: This morning started a little rough to say the least. We scheduled a charter with Coastline Adventures, and were set to leave at 8:15am from a town called Barreterre. We heard it was around 30 miles away, on the main road through town, Queens Hwy. We left around 7:15am, but missed our turn and ended up speeding around the end of Exuma, with me crying over missing the swimming pigs and the hubs less than excited about the day. Luckily we passed by a van with another charter, and were able to follow them down to the dock. In our defense, there's no way we would have found this place alone..way too many turns leading to nowhere. Coastline will normally pick you up from your hotel, so do that! If you end up driving yourself, get good directions and give yourself plenty of time. We ended up only being 15 minutes late, and Captain Bob had waited on us. So thankful we didn't miss what was an amazing day together!
We stopped early on the trip and dove for conch, passed by Tim McGraw & Faith Hills house, and saw several awesome super-expensive private resorts during our morning trip through the cays. We stopped first at Thunderball Grotto. You really need a charter the first time you go to this just to help with timing of the current. This place is amazing though! We had an underwater camera and got some great pics and videos. The fish in the cave are incredible! I would definitely recommend on getting an underwater camera if you can, the pics are well worth it! After the grotto, we headed out to the swimming pigs at Major Cay. So cute and fun to see these guys! We then stopped on a sandbar past Staniel Cay and the crew made us conch salad- delish! The sandbar was gorgeous, there were several boats anchored around, but plenty of space for us all to spread out. They took us to Compass Cay to swim with the nurse sharks, and we both really enjoyed that. We headed into Staniel Cay for lunch, my favorite spot, just for the surrounding islands, great views, food, drinks, ect! This was my top pick for our honeymoon, but they were booked so far in advance. One day we'll get there. The little bungalows are awesome, and they all come with a Boston whaler, so hubs was a fan. We ended the day stopping by an island filled with big iguanas, and they were fun as well. We made it back to the dock around 4:30, and we were exhausted, half drunk , and really happy with our experience. Definitely recommend Capt. Bob with Coastline. He was experienced, his boat was nice and had plenty of room for all us, there were several crew members that catered to our every need (including keeping the drinks coming) and the conch salad was awesome as well. It was $200 per person and worth every penny.
Thursday night we went to Peace and plenty for the band and BBQ. The food was great, and they had a band which was a blast!
Day 5, Friday, August 7th:
Friday we spent the day back on our side on the island exploring Bonefish flats. Dave fished a little bit, and then we started exploring.
530- We spotted a beach across from our house, but with a huge sandbar inbetween. Dave was determined to get over there, and after trying several routes around, we finally made it. We walked the boat through the shallow waters and carried our cooler and bag ashore. There was a wooden abandoned boat ashore that we explored for a bit. Mike, the owner of our house, told us that most of the boat wrecks seen around the flats are abondoned ships from Haiti that carry immigrants onto the island. They ditch the boats when they get close and make a swim for it. The boat was really cool the way it was put together. When we were exploring, we heard the roar of the ocean from the other side, and decided to find a path across. We reached the other side pretty quickly with our lunch and cooler, and the view was better than I ever could have expected. Such a pretty little cove and private beach, with a ton of birds and incredible views from the surrounding rocks. We had lunch in a little shelter we found, and spent the afternoon hiking around and swimming in the ocean.
Later in the afternoon, we drove the Jeep down to Tropic of Cancer beach, which was gorgeous and definitely worth checking out. It’s not marked on the side of the road, but we found out by spotting a group of blue trashcans on the left side of the road on Little Exuma. We had an early dinner at Santanas, and were glad we didn’t miss this stop. Best Lobster of the week! Dave had the grouper and it was amazing as well.
That night we went by Shirley’s at the fish fry for some late night grub and drinks. We thoroughly enjoyed their coconut water daiquiris and walking around the fish fry.
Day 6, Saturday, August 9th: This was our last day . We spend the morning shopping at the Exuma straw market. We got a couple tshirts and some gifts- womens clutches, little girls purse, ashtray, etc.
Saturday we decided to stop for lunch at our favorite meal spot from the week- One80 at Turquoise Cay. One last pina colada before we packed for our flight home. I had the mussels and Dave had the mini burger platter. Both (of course!) were great!
We were so sad to leave Exuma and for the end of what was the most incredible week. We’re already planning a 2nd trip for this December, and can’t wait to be back!